Relationship and Difference Between Speech and Writing in Linguistics

Many differences exist between the written language and the spoken language. These differences impact subtitling which is a practice that has become highly prevalent in the modern age. It is a process used to translate what the speaker is saying for those of other languages or who are deaf.

The main difference between written and spoken languages is that written language is comparatively more formal and complex than spoken language. Some other differences between the two are as follows:

Relationship and Difference Between Speech and Writing in Linguistics
Relationship and Difference Between Speech and Writing in Linguistics


Writing is more permanent than the spoken word and is changed less easily. Once something is printed, or published on the internet, it is out there for the world to see permanently. In terms of speaking, this permanency is present only if the speaker is recorded but they can restate their position.


Apart from formal speeches, spoken language needs to be produced instantly. Due to this, the spoken word often includes repetitions, interruptions, and incomplete sentences. As a result, writing is more polished.


Written language is more complex than spoken language and requires punctuation. Punctuation has no equivalent in spoken language.


Speakers can receive immediate feedback and can clarify or answer questions as needed but writers can’t receive immediate feedback to know whether their message is understood or not apart from text messages, computer chats, or similar technology.


Writing is used to communicate across time and space for as long as the medium exists and that particular language is understood whereas speech is more immediate.

Use of Slang

Written and spoken communication uses different types of language. For instance, slang and tags are more often used when speaking rather than writing.


Speaking and listening skills are more prevalent in spoken language whereas writing and reading skills are more prevalent in written language.


Tone and pitch are often used in spoken language to improve understanding whereas, in written language, only layout and punctuation are used.

These are the major differences between spoken language and written language.

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